Two newcomers were elected to serve on two Eastern Jackson County school boards, and one former member returns to his school board after a two-year hiatus.
Former board member Blake Roberson and incumbent Denise Fears were elected to serve the Independence Board of Education once again. Roberson led with 6,067 votes, with incumbent Denise Fears getting 4,552 votes. Challenger Ron Thornbury came in third with 3,065 votes. Two seats were open on the board.
“It feels good,” Roberson said after all precincts were reported. “I pledge my best on behalf of the district’s kids, staff and community. I am proud to serve.”
Roberson served on the Independence school board from 2000 to 2012. He reached the maximum 12-year term limit and had to take a two-year absence in order to run again per district policy.
Newcomer Tisha Vogel was elected to serve on the Grain Valley Board of Education. There were three open seats on the board and four candidates. Jan Reding got the most votes, 652, and will now be serving her sixth term and Jeff Coleman, who received 631 votes, will keep his board seat as well. Vogel came in third with 595 votes, beating incumbent Philip Hutchinson by 76 votes.
“I’m very excited,” Vogel said. “I look forward in serving on the board.”
Vogel added that she was hopeful of the outcome being in her favor due to the “support from both parents and teachers” in the district.
Reding says it is “fantastic” that she was re-elected. However, she says she was saddened after finding out Hutchinson will not be returning.
“He (Hutchinson) was a tremendous asset to the board,” Reding said.
Bill Baird will be serving his first term on the Lee’s Summit Board of Education, along with incumbents Terri Harmon and Chris Storms. Harmon garnered 4,132 votes. Baird had the second most number of votes, 3,914, and defeated the other challenger Mark Ousnamer, who had 2,336 votes. Storms received 3,448 votes. Four candidates vied for the district’s three open seats.
“It’s wonderful and exciting,” Baird said. “There will be some tough decisions to make in the future and I will be making informed ones.”
Ousnamer wrote an email to The Examiner saying, “Although I was not elected to the R7 School Board, I will continue to use my business background and expertise to ensure accountability and consistency in the operations of the R7 School District.”